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Ride movie review & film summary (2024)

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Ride movie review & film summary (2024)

Allyn stars as Peter, a bull rider fresh out of prison, having served four years for vehicular manslaughter. Peter is an addict, hooked on alcohol, opioids, and rodeo. His addiction led to the crash, which not only ended a life but also injured his baby sister Virginia (Zia Carlock). Picked up from the slammer by his grandfather Al (Forrie J. Smith), a one-time rodeo rider turned preacher, Peter is estranged from his parents, John (the always stellar C. Thomas Howell), also a former rodeo star turned rancher and FFA teacher, and Monica (Annabeth Gish), the local sheriff. Both are struggling to forgive their son, although the accident led to the early detection of cancer in Virginia. 

Just as Peter arrives back in town – Stephenville, Texas, aka the Cowboy Capital of the World – Virginia’s cancer comes roaring back, and the family needs $40K on top of their insurance before she can begin the aggressive treatment she needs. Soon, the newly sober Peter is back riding bulls in hopes that the prize money will help, and John finds himself selling everything he owns and contemplating risky schemes to raise the funds. The pressure pushes them both into contact with shady drug dealer Tyler (Patrick Murney, a livewire), who is as comfortable ruthlessly branding someone with a hot iron as he is tipping his hat and saying “ma’am.” 

Although crime and melodrama elements pulse through the film, they are not the focus. At its heart, “Ride” is a character study, examining men like Peter and John and where they fit in today’s world. But it’s also trying to make sense of that very world. What does it say about today’s world when so often a family with two incomes still can’t afford the life-saving cancer treatment their daughter needs? How can anyone navigate that kind of truth? John, Peter, and Al’s rocky relationship with the rodeo becomes a metaphor for life. Late in the film, Peter confesses, “When I’m riding bulls, when that shoot opens, all my pain, all that emptiness, just goes away. For eight seconds, it’s just like all I gotta do is hold on.” Even with all the unpredictable chaos that comes with bull riding, for someone like Peter, it’s something tangible, a goal that is occasionally achievable. 

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